This year’s societies at the University of Manchester have been busy with various events, socials, charities, expeditions, shows, conferences and much more. To celebrate the huge range of achievements I spoke to several societies to find out what they’ve been up to all year, what they’re proud of and what their plans and ambitions are for next year.
Joanna Fox, Expeditions Officer from The Duke of Edinburgh Award Society said they had the biggest year for memberships and have been the most active since she’s been at the University: “Our biggest undertaking has been preparing for the Gold Practice Expedition” – this involves working as a team to plan, organise and navigate your way along a three to four-day expedition route.
The Equestrian Club have also faced some challenges on their way to competing at a national level. President Claire Henderson mentioned the sheer time and commitment involved in volunteering for the club, yet also how it was all worth it as it “made my time at university 100 times better. I have made my best friends in the club, and had the chance to compete up to national level at a sport I love. The real highlight came when we qualified unexpectedly for nationals – we screamed like teenage girls at a Justin Beiber concert!”
Similarly, Manchester Sexpression achieved a lot in a year as they are now working with three local schools in Manchester and have taught sixteen classes to educate young people in sex and relationship issues, empowering them to make informed choices. Around twenty-five members of the group have been trained to do RU Clear sexual health testing and they now run a sexual health testing service in the Students’ Union every Monday. Members also took part in the Unity Project Fashion show to raise awareness and money along with six other charities.
Other great charity work has been done by Manchester Rag who raised thousands of pounds for both local and national charities. Beerfest in November alone raised approximately £6000. RAG week included highlights of Take Me Out, Speed Dating and Battle of the Bands along with other events raising around £2000. RAG have also organised shark dives, sky dives, pub quizzes and street collections to keep the good work up all year long.
The Christmas pantomime was also a huge help for RAG as Jo Mortimer explains: “An incredibly enthusiastic, committed cast from all degree disciplines came together to put on Aladdin in December” which raised around £1500, selling out on the final night. “The best thing about Panto Soc is the social elements. Due to spending a lot of time together to construct the show, we all grow incredibly close and this can be seen during the show. Next year we want to put on a show which is as ridiculous, risque and hilarious and raise even more money for RAG. We also want to put on a smaller summer show to keep the involvement going all year long.’
Another charity society that has had a successful year is UNICEF On Campus Manchester. Treasurer Shawkeen Siddiquey told me about the Enough Food for Everyone Concert at Ram & Shackle on 28th February: “It showcased a wide variety of music starting from beatboxing to psychadelic rock to house music, all from local talent or society members. It raised £300 through suggested donations, and gathered a large number of signatures.
The project UNICEF Climbs Mt. Snowdon, in collaboration with the Hiking Society on 17th March 2013 also saw ten of our athletic (and highly non-athletic!) members fundraise and then reach the top of Mt Snowdon in Wales.”
Fahim Sachedina, President of Manchester Entrepeneurs told us about what has made him proud of the society this year, which included “working with an ambitious and focused team of twelve, on over 35 events including workshops, hosting guest speakers, running week-long events and holding one of the most successful entrepreneurship conferences in the Northwest. Speakers included Ex Dragons Den star Julie Meyer.”
The society’s ambitions for next year are to put on an even bigger conference and to help more students actually set up a business.
Toch Eduputa from the society also spoke about the “great opportunity to meet new people, work on exciting projects, organise events, improve employability skills and just have fun.”
If any of these exciting events and huge achievements sound like something you wish you were part of, do not hesitate to join or participate in as many societies and events as possible next year. Not only do you get the satisfaction of being part of something great, but it is also good for meeting new people, adding something extra to your CV, making a difference and trying something new and challenging during your time at university. Well done to everyone this year, let’s hope the next is just as successful, if not more!
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